EU ruling on Secret Investment Courts makes European election results crucial – Matt Carthy MEP
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has expressed his disappointment with the opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) released on Tuesday that finds the Commission’s proposed Investment Court System in the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is compatible with EU law. The ruling doesn’t change the likelihood, he said, that the proposed corporate courts breech the Irish constitution and therefore will require a referendum in this state before it can proceed.
The Midlands North West representative said that the ruling made it clear that the next European Parliament will play a decisive role in determining whether it becomes standard practise for corporations to sue national governments and therefore it is imperative that progressive parties such as Sinn Féin are returned with strong mandates.
Matt Carthy said: “The Investment Court System will allow foreign corporations to sue national governments for enacting laws that impinge on their profits. This will happen in secret hearings with no role for the national judicial systems.
“The opinion of the Court of Justice therefore is deeply disappointing. Once again the court has held that corporate profits are more important than the democratic and fundamental rights of EU citizens.
“In response to mass public anger at the idea of secrets investment courts being included in EU free trade agreements, the Commission has tried to re-package, spin and sell the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism in CETA as being more like a permanent, normal court with safeguard mechanisms in place.
“It is nothing of the sort.
“These type of ‘Investor Courts’ which are only open to foreign companies, therefore giving them an advantage over Irish firms, have always led to a so-called ‘regulatory chill’, where governments shy away from enacting laws in the public interest that they fear may be challenged by investors. How is that democratic?
“Because CETA and other free trade agreements that propose to include an ISDS mechanism, such as the agreement with Singapore, are ‘mixed agreements’, they require ratification at both the EU and member state level. That means a single ‘no’ vote against the ratification of CETA in any EU member state parliament will be enough to scupper these plans for secret investment courts.
“The Irish state is one of the few states around the world that has never included an ISDS mechanism in any of its bilateral investment treaties to date. Ratification of these agreements will mean that this, and any future Irish government, will have to take into consideration the potential impact of all new legislation on foreign corporations. Any new law that may impact on an investor’s profits can be challenged in one of the above-described tribunals, and damages awarded or the legislation scrapped.
“The legal opinion that I have previously commissioned states that such a mechanism would breech the Irish constitution. Therefore the government should either withdraw their support for these trade deals or put the proposed corporate court system to referendum for the people to decide.
“The challenge now is for civil society, progressive parties, environmentalists and the trade union movement to demand a vote against ISDS in the Dáil on the CETA and Singapore agreements. And, of course, the immediate message that can be sent will be when voters cast their votes in the European elections. I urge people to support progressive parties such as Sinn Féin who will fight against this archaic system being imposed upon us.”